5 Reasons Your Corporate Travel Policy Needs Regular Review
Things change fast in the world of business travel, and your policy needs to keep up
As the corporate travel manager, you understand how important it is to set travel and expensing guidelines everyone can follow. Having a clear corporate travel policy improves the experience for travelers and administrators, and protects your travel budget.
But creating that policy can be a lot of work! You are justifiably proud that you have done what it takes to develop guidelines that will be truly useful for your colleagues and your company. But did we hear a sigh of relief that your work is finally finished? No, no, no. It will never be finished. Not if you want your corporate travel policy it to continue serving you well and growing with your company. Why?
Here are five reasons your corporate travel policy needs regular review.
1. The travel marketplace is constantly changing
Airlines add (and occasionally remove) routes, change schedules, and change the rules for passengers and baggage. Hotels are now in a competitive race to add locations. They are also adding and refreshing brands under their umbrella to appeal to various types of business (and leisure) travelers, especially millennials.
Hotels are also madly adding amenities to entice business guests. One example? More useful work space. These in-room and lobby-based communal-but-cool work areas bear little resemblance to the traditional “business center” of old, where you could borrow a computer, send/receive a fax or get some copies made. As one woman put it, “We travel a lot together, and it’s not usually easy to find convenient space where we can park ourselves and work.” For her team, their hotel’s lobby work space is a “center of gravity.”
What do these constant changes mean for businesses and their travel managers? That they must routinely revise their travel policies to keep up with the industry. Ten years ago, Uber and Airbnb would have no place in a corporate travel policy; these days, in most cases, they do.
2. Traveler preferences are constantly evolving
Hotels are so anxious to add new or modified amenities because traveler preferences are changing. Hotels know you’ll stop choosing them if you can’t get the extras you want as well as the basics you need. That fact applies to your corporate travel policy, too – if it isn’t keeping pace with your traveling employees, it’s out of date. And if it’s no longer relevant and useful, it won’t get used.
So it’s important to regularly check in with your frequent travelers about their expectations and to ask their opinions. What perks matter most to them now? What are their travel-related pain points (and how can your travel policy help soothe that pain)? What has changed that your policy doesn’t address? One great example is ground transportation — do your travelers prefer rental cars or ride sharing?
Without regularly soliciting feedback from your frequent travelers you won’t be able to create a travel policy that truly addresses their pain points and is in line with their preferences.
3. Your company’s travel needs morph over time
Your business isn’t the same today as it was a few years ago, so naturally your business travel needs are different as well. Effective corporate travel guidelines and procedures must reflect changing business needs and goals, just as it flexes with traveler and marketplace changes.
In the beginning, maybe only executives travel. A few years later, though, the ranks could balloon to include field sales and events marketers. You need a travel policy that keeps up with your business and accounts for its changing needs.
4. You can identify what needs to be fixed
Every time an employee books outside policy guidelines, you have to ask yourself why. Sometimes there’s a perfectly good reason – a last-minute meeting, for example. But if employees are frequently ignoring a particular policy, the rule itself may be the problem. How can you modify it, or make it more flexible, so it works? Should you get rid of it?
Review can also identify “routine rogues” — employees who are repeat offenders when it comes to ignoring corporate travel policy. Well-crafted guidelines (that are regularly reviewed and updated) can greatly reduce non-compliance, but even a few rogues can wreak havoc on your travel budget.
Knowing who they are enables you to review the situation with them individually. How can you work together to resolve the problem? There’s a good chance that the issue(s) causing one person to sidestep the rules are equally frustrating for employees who are complying, albeit unhappily. Fixing the problem could boost travel policy satisfaction with all your employees.
And that leads us to . . .
5. Keep that policy top-of-mind
Only 69% of business travelers say they “always” follow their company’s travel policies. That means almost a third of your employees are going off the reservation at some point. Reviewing your corporate travel policy is the perfect opportunity to retrain/remind travelers about guidelines they may have forgotten or are ignoring.
It’s also the perfect time to thank employees for their increasing efforts to adhere to your travel policies. How much did your company save on travel this year versus last year, thanks to better compliance? That’s so great! Let’s celebrate!
Ultimately, compliance is a two-way street. Corporate travel policies have to benefit travelers as well as the company, and that makes it a balancing act. As corporate travel manager, you can use regular review to maintain that balance in an environment where change is constant.
Want to get an expert opinion on your corporate travel policy? Have one of Lola.com’s travel experts assess your policy today.